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France urges halt to air strikes, aid corridors in Syria

A man is seen running after an air raid in the besieged town of Douma in eastern Ghouta in Damascus, Syria, February 6, 2018. REUTERS/ Bassam Khabieh

Suzana Rahman

Air strikes to stop in Syria and the opening of humanitarian corridors, was called for by French Defence Minister Florence Parly as it was unacceptable that civilians were being targeted on Friday. Parly highlighted the fighting in rebel-held areas of Idlib province and eastern Damascus, where waves of Syrian government and Russian strikes have killed dozens of civilians in recent days. “We are very worried. The air strikes need to end,” Parly said on France Inter radio. “Civilians are the targets, in Idlib and in the east of Damascus. This fighting is absolutely unacceptable,” she added. The Syrian civil war, now entering its eighth year, has killed hundreds of thousands of people and driven more than 11 million from their homes, while drawing in regional countries and global powers supporting client factions on the ground. Parly did not specify who was carrying out the strikes. Her comments came after the United Nations on Tuesday called for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Syria of at least a month. U.N. war crimes experts have also said they are investigating several reports of bombs allegedly containing chlorine gas being used against civilians. Russia, an ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad whose military support has helped government forces claw back territory, on Thursday said a ceasefire was unrealistic. France and the United Nations have repeatedly called in past months for the opening of aid corridors to alleviate the humanitarian crisis. The Paris government has also urged Moscow in private to consider ways to alleviate the crisis, but those efforts have not materialized into results on the ground. By the end of February, France’s foreign minister is to arrive in Russia.

–Source: Reuters

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